2019 State Of The Workplace Exploring the Impact of the Skills Gap and Employment-Based Immigration

The United States is facing a growing skills gap that threatens the nation’s long-term economic prosperity. The workforce simply does not have enough workers and skilled candidates to fill an ever-increasing number of high-skilled jobs. 7 million jobs were open in December 2018, but only 6.3 million unemployed people were looking for work. As the country nears full employment, businesses face an even greater talent shortage that will have a stifling impact on the economy and global innovation. Several factors contribute to the skills gap: low unemployment, new technologies and competition in the global landscape. The fastest growing sectors of the economy—health care and technology— require workers with some of the most highly specialized skills. The talent gap is also visible in the trades, middle-skilled jobs and high-skilled STEM jobs. The skills businesses say are most lacking include data analysis; science; engineering; medical; and trade skills such as carpentry, plumbing, welding and machining. Business and HR leaders view the skills shortage as a top concern that needs to be addressed. Among HR professionals, 75% of those having recruiting difficulty say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. To address the skills shortage, the United States needs a world-class, highly skilled workforce. This will require training workers, collaborating with educational institutions to improve graduate employability, and competing globally for top talent. Foreign-born talent is a necessary complement to the U.S. workforce as businesses become increasingly interconnected globally. The studies described in this report begin the exploration of the skills gap and foreign-born talent’s role in lessening recruiting difficulty. To supplement these preliminary findings, SHRM will be conducting robust additional studies in 2019 and beyond.